505 Laurel Street, Banker's Hill
In France, duck confit is prepared in the time-honored tradition of removing the duck fat, rendering it, and then placing the fat in a deep crock. The duck is pressed, and after a few days under pressure, the duck is baked in a slow oven before it's returned to the crock of duck fat, where it remains marinated until ready to eat. In French restaurants such as Laurel, the process of preparation is not only modernized but referred to as "a ritual." The duck legs are cured for one day in Kosher salt, chopped garlic, fresh shallots, and pepper; placed between two layers of parchment paper; and covered with a heavy weight. The legs are then submerged in commercial duck fat and baked at 250 degrees for three hours. The secret is to allow the duck to remain at room temperature while all the fat drips off. It's then placed with more duck fat in the refrigerator, where it remains for two weeks or a month. When ready to serve, it's put into a hot pan, skinned down to get the skin crispy, and baked at 400 degrees for five minutes. The duck is served with a sauce of roasted pearl onions, wild mushrooms, and fava beans. This vegetable ragout is the perfect complement to the fork-tender, flavorful duck. Confit is well done, never bloody or gamy. It's a treat because it's Southern French with California flair ($19).